VCU President Michael Rao called six robbery-related incidents Monday night "absolutely unacceptable."
"Safety is, and always will be, a top priority at Virginia Commonwealth University," said President Rao at a press conference Tuesday morning. "I am deeply concerned about the six robbery-related crimes that happened on, or in the vicinity of, the campus last night."
VCU police say a university employee was robbed at gunpoint on campus at 913 W. Franklin St. They believe that incident to be isolated. However, another armed robbery and four other attempted robberies near campus may be related, according to police.
The armed robbery near campus occurred at Laurel and Cary streets and is being investigated by Richmond Police. In all, four students and one non-student/visitor were robbed near campus in just a matter of hours late Monday.
Later in the day VCU Police chief John Venuti and President Rao met with the Richmond Police Department Deputy Chief Eric English. President Rao met with Mayor Dwight Jones as well. According to a police press release, the group discussed strategies to fight the crime, ways to collaborate further and deployment of additional resources.
Many VCU students tell NBC12 that they stayed inside Monday night.
"One happened fairly close to my apartment, so I had to spend the rest of the night indoors," says Nick Delia, a VCU junior.
"It's just dangerous, because the school is a safe area but the area around it is not as much," says Brandon Adams, a VCU Sophomore.
"I am deeply concerned about the six robbery related crimes that happened on or in the vicinity of the campus last night. It's absolutely unacceptable," Dr. Rao said.
Several text alerts went out.
"I got a little shocked, because we never gotten that many texts in one day," says Nelly Rodriguez, a VCU sophomore.
Now police say the overall crime rate is down and all their resources are going towards stopping robberies. According to VCU's annual crime report, there were 25 reported robberies around the Monroe and MCV campus last year. School leaders say collaboration between both police departments is key.
"We are going to continue to work with Richmond Police with ideas and creative strategies to really deter people from coming down to VCU and victimizing our students, faculty and staff," says Chief John Venuti with the VCU Police Department.
Chief Venuti says that in Monday's attempted robberies, the victims didn't have anything to take but the crime is still deeply disturbing.
In order to fight back, the university community needs to work together.
"We need everyone's help particularly in describing what they see and if they have a slight sense in something is wrong, talk about it, report it to police," says Dr. Rao.
Police say the robber was wearing pajama pants with chili peppers on it.
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